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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Determined to succeed

It was my sophomore year in college at Bethany Bible College in Scotts Valley, California. Finals week. Lots of exams. Lots of pressure.

To deflate some of that pressure, a few of us went down to the board walk one night that week in Santa Cruz and rode the wooden roller coaster there 23 times.

Up and down.

Last Sunday, I shared that in the process of relocating our church - that is has been like a roller coaster. Up and down. Times of extreme victory, and times of extreme challenge.

Dealing with the village of Orland, lawyers, contractors, builders,'s interesting! Especially in Chicago!

Yet we are determined to persevere!

There is a verse in Isaiah 50:7 that has become one of my life verses:

"Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not b put to shame."

Many times, it comes down to setting our "face like flint" and depending upon God and moving forward no matter what obstacles come our way.

An outstanding example of perseverance is Madame Marie Curie, who worked together with her French physicist husband, Pierre Curie, in an old abandoned leaky shed without funds and without outside encouragement or help, trying to isolate radium from a low-grade uranium ore called pitchblende.

After their 487th experiment had failed, Pierre threw up his hands in despair and said, "It will never be done. Maybe in a hundred years, but never in my day."

Marie confronted him with a resolute face and said, "If it takes a hundred years, it will be a pity, but I will not cease to work for it as long as I live."

She was eventually successful.

Let me tell you - we will be successful, because we are determined to succeed. But even more importantly, most importantly, we know that God is with us. We will make it because God is helping us, leading us and guiding us.

And, where God guides, he provides.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Facing our fears

We all have fears and worries that can many times overwhelm us and keep us from being all that God wants us to be.

Last night Bobby Jenks lost a game for Chicago White Sox. He's a reliever for the team and had the lead 2-1 going into the ninth. He loaded the bases and then the Tampa Bay Rays took advantage and bam - it was 3-2.

What really stood out though was the look of lostness, even fear in his eyes. Something is going on - I don't know what - but it looked like he was more afraid of losing than he was winning.

We do that as well. We can let our fears stop us dead in our tracks and fail to reach our full potential.

Many fear germs, heights, people, failure, success, closed in spaces, leaving things undone, the list goes on and on.

Here are the names of some fears you might not know about:

There is the fear of:

Air swallowing - Aerophobia
Anything new - Neophobia (that's one that is predominate in the kingdom of God)
Bald people - Peladophobia
Bathing - Ablutophobia
Belly buttons - Omphalophobia
Church - Ecclesiophobia (again one we struggle with in the kingdom)
Constipation - Coprastasophobia
Ideas - Ideophobia (are you seeing a theme here?)
Mother in law - Pentheraphobia

We all deal with certain fears.

Psychologist have what they call, "exposure therapy," and they aren't far off in that.

In other words I am to do the thing I fear the most. I am to face my fears. The way to overcome my fears is not to run from them but to embrace them and deal with them head on.

As an example: I have a fear of heights - I went skydiving.

Mark Batterson writes:

"I recently went to the doctor's office for an extensive battery of allergy tests. My doctor wanted to find out what allergens trigger my asthma. The nurse-practitioner pricked my forearm in 18 places with different allergens and said, "Don't scratch." It was like Chinese water torture. I had to resist the urge to scratch the itch for 15 of the longest minutes of my life!

But testing for allergies isn't a pointless exercise in cruel and unusual punishment, even though it might seem like it. It is a form of reverse engineering. My doctor wasn't satisfied with treating my allergy symptoms. She wanted to discover the root causes of my reactions. And the solution isn't just avoiding those allergens. The cure is actually exposing myself to them in small doses.

Here is my point. The cure for the fear of failure is not success. It's failure. The cure for the fear of rejection is not acceptance. It's rejection. You've got to be exposed to small quantities of whatever you're afraid of. That's how you build up immunity."

I like what he says. Start out small, but face your fears. Don't let them overwhelm you. Live in the Holy Spirit. Be bold with the Spirit of God within you....and remember, God hasn't given you a spirit of fear but of peace and love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

there are some things more important than winning

There are some things more important than winning.

Winning is fun, it's great, but sometimes circumstances arise that help us realize that being number one isn't always the thing to do.

I found this story today:

"When Johntell Franklin's mother lost her battle with cancer on February 7, 2009, no one was surprised to hear that Franklin, a senior forward for the Milwaukee Madison High School basketball team (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), was not going to play in his team's game that day against DeKalb High School (DeKalb, Illinois).

But then he showed up.

Midway through the second quarter, Franklin walked into the gym, ready to play. The only problem was that his name hadn't been entered into the scorebook.

That meant that if Franklin took the floor, his team would be assessed a technical—two free throws for the DeKalb team. Aaron Womack Jr., coach of Milwaukee Madison, and Dave Rohlman, coach of DeKalb, both met with the game's referee, begging the referee to make an exception to the rules.

Though the referee was sympathetic to the situation, he stressed that the rules had to be followed, regardless of the extenuating circumstances.

That's when something truly special happened. When the referee would not budge, DeKalb's Darius McNeal volunteered to shoot the two free throws. When he turned to make his way to the line, Coach Rohlman called out, "You realize you're going to miss, right?" McNeal nodded.

McNeal went to the line, the referee handed him the basketball, and he set his feet to take the shot. But instead of a perfectly executed free throw, McNeal shot the ball just two feet in front of him, and the ball slowly bounced out of bounds.

The referee picked the ball up, handed it back to McNeal, and McNeal did the same thing for the second shot. The crowd responded with a standing ovation.

Later, in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, McNeal said, "I did it for the guy who lost his mom. It was the right thing to do."

Moved by the gesture of the DeKalb team, Coach Womack wrote a letter to the DeKalb Daily Chronicle, saying, "You should all feel immense pride for the remarkable job that the coaching staff is doing in not only coaching these young men, but teaching them how to be leaders."

He added—tongue in cheek—"I'd like to recognize Darius who stepped up to miss the shot on purpose. … I hope Coach Rohlman doesn't make him run [laps]."

Wow...may we all be that sensitive to the needs of others.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Friday evening, my brother Mark came in for the weekend. We've had a great time. It's been fun catching up.

Yesterday, Mark shared with our church family concerning two of the four projects he is working on. I was thrilled to hear of how many people have been saved through (you can find this on the cover page of our website). 22,000 people have come to Christ in the past few of them are now in discipleship through (I encourage you to check this out as well).

Last night at our life group meeting, Mark shared of his divorce and the fact that God continues to be faithful, even in the midst of a difficult time.

Powerful, powerful stuff. "They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good," comes to mind (Genesis 50:20).

Friday evening, Mark, Debbie, my daughter Becky and I were in Nordstrom's....doing some shopping.

I noticed a young family, with a small boy....a little boy with a shock of blonde hair. I was thinking how cute the little guy was when all of a sudden I look down and he's clinging to my leg for all its worth.

He thought I was his dad. But what was funny was that when his dad approached to get him, the little boy waved him was having a difficult time pulling him away (the were a young polish couple) until the little guy looked up at me and saw I wasn't his dad!

Funny stuff. So many life lessons there it's crazy.

Sometimes what we think we are holding on to for dear life is our salvation, isn't our salvation at all.

I want to hold on to Jesus - how about you!

More money won't do it, more things, more hobbies, only Jesus is ultimately our salvation.

Why not turn to him today?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jealousy and others in the Kingdom of God

Have you ever been kind of jealous of the way God blesses other people? I have. And I would guess you have too.

Jealousy is a horrible sin.

It causes discontentment in our lives. It causes us to be unsettled and unhappy with life and many times in our walk and service with God.

We point at others and say, "why can't you bless me like that?"

That happens in the ministry as well.

"Why can't our church be a mega-church like (and you fill in the blank)"
"Why can't our life group be as wonderful as (and you fill in the blank)"
"Why can't I sing like so-and-so?"

While we were on vacation a couple of weeks ago, we watched the movie, "Amazing Grace."

It's the story of Wilbur Wilburforce, who was converted and changed during the same era that John Newton lived and wrote, "Amazing Grace," that wonderful hymn of the church.

John Newton one time said that, "if two angels in heaven were given assignments by God at the same instant, one of them to go and rule over the greatest nation on earth and the other to go sweep the streets of the dirties village, each angel would be completely indifferent as to which one got which assignment."

It simply wouldn't matter to them.

Why? Because the real joy lies in being obedient to God.

Here's what I want to leave with you today:

For a Christ follower, the important thing isn't what God has you doing; the important thing is that you're doing what God wants you to do.

What are you doing today for God?

Let's stop looking at the role that God has given us and instead ponder as to our faithfulness to that role.....and when we do....God will continue to bless.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A transformed life

Two principles:

1. The greatest witness to Christianity is a transformed life.
2. It is never to late to believe that someone can connect with Christ and become a follower.

I read a story today about A.N. Wilson who was a brilliant philosopher. Many hoped that he would become the next C.S. Lewis.

But as a young man, he began to wonder how much of the Easter story he accepted. By his thirties, he had lost all religious belief and publicly repudiated his Christian faith, becoming an atheist.

He soon embraced the role of a harsh, cynical critic of Christianity and any faith in God at all. At one point he even wrote a book claiming Jesus was a failed messianic prophet (2004's Jesus).

But on the Saturday before Easter in 2009, he wrote a shocking piece for London's prestigious newspaper, The Daily Mail, in which he shared his experience of participating in a Palm Sunday service.

He writes:

"When I took part in the procession last Sunday and heard the Gospel being chanted, I assented to it with complete simplicity. My own return to faith has surprised no one more than myself. Why did I return to it? Partially, perhaps it is no more than the confidence I have gained with age. Rather than being cowed by them, I relish the notion that, by asserting a belief in the risen Christ, I am defying all the liberal clever-clogs on the block.

But there is more to it than that. My belief has come about in large measure because of the lives and examples of people I have known—not the famous, not saints, but friends and relations who have lived, and faced death, in the light of the Resurrection story, or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future after they die.

Sadly, [the secularists] have all but accepted that only stupid people actually believe in Christianity, and that the few intelligent people left in the churches are there only for the music or believe it all in some symbolic or contorted way which, when examined, turns out not to be belief after all. As a matter of fact, I am sure the opposite is the case and that materialist atheism is not merely an arid creed, but totally irrational.

Materialist atheism says we are just a collection of chemicals. It has no answer whatsoever to the question of how we should be capable of love or heroism or poetry if we are simply animated pieces of meat. The Resurrection, which proclaims that matter and spirit are mysteriously conjoined, is the ultimate key to who we are.

It confronts us with an extraordinarily haunting story. J. S. Bach believed the story, and set it to music. Most of the greatest writers and thinkers of the past 1,500 years have believed it. But an even stronger argument is the way that Christian faith transforms individual lives—the lives of the men and women with whom you mingle on a daily basis, the man, woman, or child next to you in church tomorrow morning."

If you have yet to connect with Christ, why not consider those around you who have - and the way Christ has transformed their lives?

And if you are a follower of Christ - don't give up hope for that person who has yet to accept Him. Pray, believe and share.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ground breaking

Here's the announcement of our Ground Breaking celebration on the website of the Illinois District Council.

To see it you can go to:

Then go to "News"

Then to "Stone Church Ground breaking"

Then click on "photos" to see some photos of the event.

We continue to rejoice!

Here's the article on their website:

"The Stone Church of Palos Heights held a groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday, July 12, for their new facility to be built in Orland Park. Plans are for their relocation to be complete by Easter 2010.

Remarks were given by Pastor George Flattery, Daniel McLaughlin, Mayor of Orland Park; President of ARC Architecture, Massimo ‘Max’ Bianchini; and John Hayes, Building Committee Chairman. District Superintendent Larry Griswold gave the message. Paul Melidona, Worship Pastor, led the congregation in several songs as well as the Doxology.

Pastor Flattery gave a word of declaration as the church's pastors, deacons, elders, and building committee came forward to break ground. Also wielding shovels were the building architect, and representatives of several age groups in the church, and longtime member Ruth Sennese, who has attended the church since her birth 87 years ago. Erik Scottberg, youth pastor, led the congregation in a consecration that involved dedicating themselves to seeing the project through to completion and pledging that the church shall exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.

Construction began on July 14. Phase I will include the construction of a 28,000 square foot facility with a 400 seat chapel, gymnasium, offices, and classrooms. A total of three phases are planned. The new location is off the I-80 Expressway at the LaGrange Road Exit and close to the new I-355 extension to I-80. The church will be visible from I-80. Orland Park is one of the fastest-growing communities in the U.S. and recently ranked #45 in Money Magazine's top 100 best places to live, and the second-best city in Illinois (behind Naperville).

The Stone Church is one of the oldest AG churches in Illinois and celebrated its 100th anniversary in September 2007. Pastor Flattery has served as pastor since November 2007"

Cool stuff. Great time. We continue to trust in the Lord!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

What a great weekend!

As I stated in my last blog, Debbie and I went down to Springfield, Missouri and spent time with family, showing off our granddaughter, Georgia. She is such a sweetheart!

We took a picture of the 5 generations, my grandmother, my dad, my daughter, my granddaughter and myself. The picture is to the right.

What a great family time we had!

It might be one of the last times that I get to see my grandma (she is 95). She is still fairly sharp, and has that continual dry sense of humor!

Saturday evening, we had a great dinner with the building committee members and their wives. What a blessing they are to our church, giving of their time and talents. God has brought together a great team - with John Hayes as our chairman.

Yesterday mornings service - what can I say but one word - powerful.

Every once in a while, we as a church family experience a "bench mark" Sunday or a Sunday that not only propels into the future but a Sunday that we look back to as a highlight of what God is doing in our church.

Several raised their hands for salvation, one brother recommitted his life to Christ after spending time away from God. There was such an energy level of God's Spirit!

Many came forward to be prayer for - many needs were given to God!

And then....the Ground we were singing "we are standing on Holy Ground," I felt a powerful sense of God's presence.

The dream is becoming a reality!

Our District Superintendent, mayor (Orland Park) architect and others were present to help us celebrate.

I am excited!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

My Grandmother

Late this afternoon I am going to Springfield, Missouri (coming back Saturday) for one purpose. To get my picture taken with five generations of Flatterys.

The picture will consist of my grandmother, my dad, myself, my daughter and my granddaughter.

As the commercial says:

Cost of flight
Cost of meals

The picture itself - priceless.

I know that in a few years, after grandma is with Jesus, that I am going to cherish this picture. In fact, now that I think about it, I will put it on my blog next week so that everyone can see it.

My grandmother has always had a special place in my heart.

If you are like me, with our parents or our grandparents, we see them at a certain age and that never seems to change.

To me, my grandmother is around 50 years old (near the age I am now - hard to believe), vibrant, alive, full of life, painting, cooking pies, roast beef, potatoes, carrots, (we call that "Sunday dinner").

The thing I really cherish about her was her ability to listen, and listen unconditionally - without any judgement call provided.

I loved that about her.

A few weeks ago, she nearly died, now she is back, once again, doing well.

I always say that probably, my grandmother will be standing over my grave saying the "Our Father," when I die. Some are blessed living long, long lives.

She is 95.

One thing I could never really understand about her and grandpa when I was growing up (I lived with them one summer) was the way that her and grandpa would "yip" at one another, and how could they still love one another?

Now I understand. Debbie and I love one another deeply, yet we have our moments of "yipping" as well (I am making that word up - it stands for kind of nagging at one another). I know that Grandpa and Grandma loved each other deeply.

Well, I look forward to seeing her tomorrow, and being with my grandchild.

I just came back from visiting Candice and Augie Insalaco in the hospital. They just had a beautiful 7 pound 4 ounce boy - Noah Thomas.

It made me want to hug my granddaughter this evening all the more.

We are looking forward to a great day on Sunday - Ground Breaking Day for our church!

You won't want to miss Sunday's service and the ceremony itself.

It's exciting!

Please know that Debbie and I love you a lot!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


I am concluding my series on Revelation tonight, with a glance at Heaven. In reviewing some stuff on our eternal state, I am greatly comforted by the reminder of what we have to look forward to.

We will serve in heaven, study in heaven, supervise in heaven, share in heaven and sing in heaven.

I would suggest that what will make heaven incredibly heaven will not be the streets of gold or the physical environment, but the presence of God.

To live eternally with no sin, and in the perfect presence of the living God!

I asked for some questions concerning heaven, and here are a few that I received, which I will attempt to answer tonight.

Questions I received (and answers):

Q: If we will rejoice when we see our loved ones in Heaven with us, how do you imagine we will handle the sorrow when we don't see other loved ones that never got it? Actually, how might we handle the sorrow just knowing there are so many people in hell, even if we didn't know them?

A: First of all, we will be so focused on Christ and those around us in heaven that the things of this world will be but a distant memory. Secondly, our emotions in heaven will be different to the extent that they will be godly. Perfect. God like. Thus our sorrow, will be a sorrow of a different kind. Our anger will be an anger of a different kind. Thirdly, while we will still have memories of our time on earth and of people we know who have gone to hell, the emotional effect of those memories will be greatly diminished. We will realize just how powerful the grace of God really is.

Q: By having rewards and crowns in Heaven, doesn't that entail recognizing levels of achievement and/or accolades for people? If so, then we will once again not be equals there either. Since God doesn't play favorites how can that be?

A: There is a difference in the role and function that we all play and the equality that is there in the eyes of God. God does not play favorites. The Bible does explicitly tells us of rewards for what we have done on this earth in promoting and helping in the Kingdom of God. We will all be in God's presence, we will all know God for who He is and see Him face to face, but we will all serve in different capacities.

Q: Will we have a free will in Heaven. Yes! The only difference will be that there will be no temptation or sin. No more sin! No more temptation!

Thus, the ability to choose will be there, but the options of sinning or not sinning will not.

In my studies, I'm also glad that there will be "eating and drinking in heaven." Won't it be great to eat without having to worry about calories?

I found this today: It's called the "The Worst Drink in America".

It's a Baskin-Robbins Large Heath Bar Shake which has:

2,310 calories
108 g fat (64 g saturated)
266 g

Let's look at America's Worst Drink in numbers:

73: The number of ingredients that go into this milkshake.

66: The number of teaspoons of sugar this drink contains.

11: The number of Heath Bars you would have to eat to equal the number of calories found in one Baskin Robbins Large Heath Bar Shake.

12: The average number of minutes it takes to consume this drink.

240: The number of minutes you'd need to spend on a treadmill, running at a moderate pace, to burn it off.

Oh, won't it be wonderful the old hymn goes....Eternally drinking milkshakes with no after affects!

What are your thoughts about Heaven? What are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A good book

I picked up a book yesterday entitled, "God is back, How the Global Revival Of Faith is Changing The World," by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.

They are two Englishmen, educated at Oxford, and I don't know if they are followers of Christ.

But from what I have read (just the introduction so far) they seem to be "spot on" - of course maybe I should read more before I make that statement.

Let me quote from the inner flap of the book.

"On the street and in the corridors of power, religion is surging worldwide. From Russia to Turkey to India, nations that sore off faith in the last century - or even tried to stamp it out - are now run by avowedly religious leaders. Formerly secular conflicts like the one in Palestine have taken on an overtly religious cast. GOD IS BACK, shines a bright light on this huge, hidden world of faith, from exorcism in Sao Paulo to religious skirmishing in Nigeria, to televangelism in California and house churches in China.

Since the enlightenment, intellectuals have assumed that modernization would kill religion, and that religious America is an oddity. As GOD IS BACK argues, religion and modernity can thrive together, and America's approach to faith is becoming the norm. Many things have helped spark the global revival of religion, including the failure of communism and the rise of globalism. But above all, twenty first century faith is being fueled by a very American emphasis on competition and customer-driver attitude toward salvation.

These qualities have characterized this country's faith ever since the Founders seperated church and state, creating a religious free market defined by entrepreneurship, choice and personal revelation.

As market forces reshape the world, the tools and ideals of American evangelism are now spreading everywhere."

Interesting, interesting stuff.

To simplify, countries like China are expanding economically at such an explosive rate that the lack of a moral compass will implode the fabric of their society unless religion plays an important role.

Even the Chinese are edging toward the conclusion that God and modernization can go hand in hand, that spiritual wealth and material wealth go together.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Left handed compliments

Have you ever received a left handed compliment? Sure you have. Most of them are unintentional - we don't mean to give a little dig while we share something positive about someone.

For instance, someone comes up to you and says, "I love you hair, how long have you been dying it?" A left handed compliment.

Or, "I loved that song you sang, I've never heard it sung quite that way before."
A left handed compliment.

Or, "thanks for reading this blog, it's shows that you have too much time on your hands."

One of my favorite stories that a friend of my tells is the time when a woman in our church came up to him (he was the associate pastor) and said, "I usually don't get anything out of your sermons - but that one was okay." A Left handed compliment.

I received one this week from one of the kids of our church. I loved it. Every time I share this with friends, it causes me to laugh and to realize once again the old axiom: WE MUST NEVER TAKE OURSELVES TOO SERIOUSLY.

She sent me a thank you card today that read:

"Dear Pastor Flattery,

Thank you so much for all the great ministries you do. Your stories never get old even when you tell them over and over again.


That cracks me up. I love it. God bless her.

She has now become one of my favorite people.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Cynicism and the christian faith

As I "mature" in my years, I don't want to become a cynical old man.

There is much to be cynical about in the world today - even in the church. Or should I say to say, especially in the church.

About the 100th time someone says, "I will pray about it," in reference to someone being asked to participate in a ministry, and you both know well that it means an emphatic "no" - you can be tempted to be cynical.

Or the goofiness of godly saints who act in childish ways - you can be tempted to be cynical.

Or the immaturity of those who have been in the church a long time - you can be tempted to be cynical.

Sometimes you just want to cry out, "why don't we all just grow up"!

Yet we must continually fight the notions of allowing cynicism to creep into our spirits and attitudes.

Cynicism will destroy your walk with God.

In his book "Please Don't Squeeze the Christian", Scott Sernau reflects on the danger of cynicism—especially in the life of believers who claim a "living hope." He writes:

"Cynicism kills in the manner of frostbite: the only symptom is a deadening numbness. And even Christians are often tinged with this frostbite. Callousness and doubt numb us to life and joy. We find ourselves leaving the triumphant lyrics of the old hymns on the church doorstep, because they appear hopelessly out of step with the world waiting outside. Our problem is not that we've been taught to question our faith, but rather that we've been taught to reject any answers. Doubt can be a state of mind—or it can be a way of life."

Join me in my quest to fight off cynicism - and not be a grumpy old man.